Some patients who come to our dental office in Natick have had concerns about the safety of their old silver (amalgam) fillings. For many the concern is the toxic mercury in the fillings getting into their body. Others are concerned about the cosmetic aspect of having a dental filling in an unnatural color. What many don’t consider is that the fillings may have caused a crack or cavity which is now hiding underneath the filling.
The safety of silver amalgam fillings
It has been known for a long time that mercury is toxic. Even when the FDA approved the us of mercury in amalgam fillings they did knowing that mercury can cause harm. The reason silver fillings were approved was because the amount of toxin that would enter the body was far below the amount they deemed harmful. The benefit of having a material that could be easily applied into a cavity outweighed the potential harm from the mercury.
Luckily new technological breakthroughs in material science has brought composite fillings as an alternative to metal fillings and in the past couple for decades they have become the standard filling. Despite this, the FDA maintains their stance and doesn’t recommend that mercury fillings that are still structurally sound be replaced with white composite fillings like the ones offered in our Natick dental office.
Replacing amalgam dental fillings for cosmetic reasons
The FDA recommendation notwithstanding, many patients don’t like the way the fillings look, especially since they start turning black as they get older and become quite noticeable. This is where a cosmetic dentist like the ones at Natick Dental Health can talk patients through their options for replacing dark colored amalgam fillings with a natural looking cosmetic alternative.
As the cosmetic dentists take these old fillings out, however, they may notice cracks or cavities that have been hiding under the filling this entire time.
Cracks and cavities under amalgam fillings
Studies have found that cracks often develop around large amalgam fillings. These cracks in the tooth can lead to various dental complications that may require a root canal or a dental crown.
Additionally, amalgam fillings can become ‘leaky’ in the sense that bacteria can eventually find their way underneath them. Once the bacteria find their way in they can cause decay since people have no way of brushing or cleaning underneath a filling. This decay could eventually require a root canal and a crown as well.
The modern composite materials that are used for dental fillings have the capability to bond to the tooth, providing a better seal that prevents a filling from becoming leaky like this. Additionally modern fillings require far less removal of the tooth and smaller fillings, which can help prevent the tooth cracking under the filling.
If you live near Natick and are wondering if you should have your old dental fillings replaced, call our dental office or book a consultation online with one of our cosmetic dentists.